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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

OUTSIDE CHINA                             325

die. The relatives of the sick reject medicines and ban doctors from
their houses until both the patient and the cows are dead. The island
produces aloes wood, but this is paid for by the Chinese merchants
by offering cows in barter. As soon as the Loi tribes get hold of a
cow, they sacrifice it to the spirits and none can escape. How can
the Chinese people possibly get blessing from the gods by burning
this incense in their prayer, when they are actually roasting beef?"

The Chinese had never been able to subjugate the jungle dwellers.
When an army approached, the tribesmen merely retired to the jungles,
and the Chinese did not push farther because no one cared to live or
settle in the mountains. The tribesmen staged occasional raids into the
towns when there was a quarrel. Sometimes they were cheated by a
Chinese trader, and, unable to obtain justice by appearing in a Chinese
court, their only resort was to capture him and hold him for ransom
in order to recover the money. Kuo later wrote a long essay of two
thousand words on this situation and showed that there was no way
of subjugating or pacifying the natives except by fair play and a strict
administration of justice. The natives, Kuo contended, were good,
honest people, and they were driven to taking the law into their own
hands only because the Chinese courts could not render them justice.

This was real exile, imposing bodily hardships on the old man.
According to him, there was just nothing obtainable on the island.
"We eat here without meat, get sick without medicine, seek shelter
without houses, go out without friends, go through winter without
charcoal, and through summer without cold springs. I cannot enumer-
ate all the things that we have to do without. In short, we lack almost
everything. There is only one consolation, and that is, we also lack
malaria here."

But his indomitable spirit and his philosophy of life hardly permitted
him to lose his joy of living. "I have still this material body left, which
I have confided to the care of the Creator. I let it go through the
eternal cycle, going and stopping wherever the fates decree. So I am
at ease whatever happens. Don't worry on account of me," he wrote
to a friend.

What exasperated Chang Chun and other enemies of Su Tungpo
was that they could do nothing to him. On September 12, 1098, he
wrote an item in his diary commenting on his predicament as follows:

"When I first arrived at the South Sea and saw a complete circle
of water on the horizon, I felt disheartened and sighed: When shall
I be able to get off this island?' But then I thought: the universe
itself is surrounded by water. The Nine Continents are situated
in the Great Ing Ocean, and China is situated in the Lesser Ocean.